In between everything else I do, I’ve started checking out books that were once fanfiction. In part, it’s because I’m hoping to in a small way support the authors I’ve in some way come to know prior to their mainstream flight. But I’d be lying if I said part of it wasn’t just morbid curiosity. I wonder if their stories will hold up as well in the real world, if the editing they get is any better than the beta work their fanfic stories went through. And I’m curious to see if I’ll be at all interested in the characters after they’ve been made over into something less familiar than the standard Edward/Bella. With that in mind, I decided to check out Breach. After all, if memory serves, it had quite the following when it was fanfiction.
Delilah is a rather closed off lawyer who avoids the courtroom as surely as she avoids her memories of a rather dark childhood. She’s no good at relationships, in large part because her confidence and self-image was essentially shattered during her formative years. So when she can’t deny her attraction to her new office mate, she raises her walls and tries to ward him off with sharp words.
Nathan is not without his own dark past. As charming and flirty as he comes off with his many admirers in the office, there’s something underneath that isn’t so pretty. His rather dominant take on sex seems to be exactly what Delilah needs, even if they’re both fighting that realization, and no little non-fraternization policy at the office is going to keep them away from each other.
Unfortunately, the book started to lose me in the first few chapters, specifically during the first sex scene. While the prude in me thought it was a little early for wall sex, I just figured it was a catalyst for something that would pull me in sooner or later, so I kept reading. And then Nathan opened his mouth. I don’t think it was the dirty talk that ruined it for me, at least not in theory. It was simply how far it went before I felt like I knew the characters enough to understand it – its place in the story, its purpose, its necessity.
I recently read another book where the characters had a bit of a lust-hate relationship thing going from the start. They quickly jumped into sex, certainly didn’t keep the dialog clean or even respectful, and yet had me hooked immediately. When I think about it, it’s because the authors gave me just enough insight into their personalities and situation to convince me even before it happened that things were going to be messy, rough, and even a bit angry. Not only was I fine with it, but I looked forward to it.
Breach just didn’t do that for me. I felt I knew so little of Nathan in the moments before he called Delilah a whore (in the heat of angry sex, that is) that she should have at the very least slapped him. I’m sure his words were meant to illustrate his dominance/darkness and her wanton need (and probably hint at some of those issues from her childhood), but for me, it just killed the moment. I really didn’t know her well enough to begin to comprehend why she accepted and responded to it the way she did. I kept reading, of course, but the more they hooked up, the more I didn’t like either character. Once I realized I just wasn’t going to get behind either one of them, I figured it was time to move on to another book.
The other issue I had was the editing. It wasn’t awful; in fact, it was spot on most of the time. But then the missing commas began to add up, and I found myself noticing those little mistakes just enough to distract me from the story. That, and a rather glaring bit of confusion between a common noun and a proper name that offended me on a personal level kind of did me in.
A rather glaring difference between fanfiction and original fiction is the level of depth with which the characters must be introduced. Even when fanfiction characters are written completely out of character (when compared to the originals), readers go in with a sense of already knowing who everyone is. Traits can be mentioned, and personalities can be illustrated, but since we’re reading about characters we already love (or hate), full introductions are rarely necessary. Not so with original fiction, and that’s where this book failed to resonate with me. Since I never read this one in its fanfiction form, I went in not knowing what to expect, and I simply didn’t get enough insight to reel me in by the time things got heavy.
I’m not surprised to see so many glowing reviews from fanfiction readers — after all, if they loved the story in its first incarnation, they’ll probably love the retelling as well. However, I didn’t have that particular advantage, and the story doesn’t appear to be written in a way that accommodates that. I suspect that’s where I went wrong. If I’d read the fanfic version as it posted, I would have already half-known the characters and maybe become invested in them instantly, which would have transferred neatly when I dove into the book. I can’t say it’s a terrible story or even bad writing, since I didn’t get very far into it before realizing it just wasn’t for me, and I’m curious as to what fans who aren’t from the fanfiction world think of it. So if you’ve never touched the fanfiction version, but you’ve read the published book, I’d love to hear your take. I know K.I. Lynn is a good writer, so what am I missing here?